Flip ‘N Flate Wins BizPitch 2015

Doug Hendry, Editor-in-Chief

Flip ’N Flate, led by Trey Johnson ’18 and Kenny Griffin ’18, captured first prize at the fourth annual BizPitch competition held in the Terrace Room on Oct. 26. After more than a month of preparation, Flip ’N Flate surpassed 23 other groups competing for the $2,000 award supplied by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for the top student-led entrepreneurial team at the event.

This was the most successful year of the competition for the SBDC in terms of student turnout. After preliminary rounds, six groups moved on to compete in the final round, with the other five teams being Friendress, PickUp, TouchBus, Thunderstruck Studios, and Uscape Apparel.

“I was thrilled with the turnout: both for competition participants, and for attendees at the finale. We had 72 students apply to be in BizPitch15 comprising 24 teams—the largest turnout yet. And we had about 200 people packed into the Terrace Room tonight—about double our crowd from last year’s event,” SBDC Director Steve Stumbris said.

Uscape Apparel earned second place while TouchBus finished in third, with those two teams earning $1,000 and $500, respectively.

This year’s competition featured the multidisciplinaraspect of entrepreneurship, with many students representing management, engineering, and other liberal arts fields. The audience was able to vote at the end of the event to determine the fan favorite of the night.

“This was a true watershed year for BizPitch for the level of business savvy, venture maturity, and pure creativity on display. The voting for the top six teams was extremely close, and even beyond the finalists, there are many more innovative and viable startups being launched here at Bucknell,” Stumbris said.

The Class of 2018 has dominated the past two competitions. This year’s winner featured two sophomores from the Class of 2018, while last year’s winning team was made up of four first-years in the Class of 2018.

The SBDC is here to help aspiring entrepreneurs at the University, and Stumbris encourages any students looking for information to come learn more.

“We are available to meet with students on campus and at our downtown office co-located with the Bucknell University Entrepreneurs Incubator or ‘StartupLewisburg.’ We can advise on the development of marketing strategies, help identify sources of capital, coach on the development of investor pitches (like the ones presented during BizPitch), and offer expert advice to clients as they plan, launch, and grow businesses,” Stumbris said.

First Place – Flip ’N Flate

Johnson and Griffin created Flip ’N Flate, a rug that can be flipped over and transformed into an air mattress. The two students thought of the idea after seeing many visiting athletes sleep on the hard floor in the dorm rooms.

“We have known about BizPitch since last year’s competition, so we were excited to sign up for BizPitch 2015. After we were informed that Flip ’N Flate placed for the final round, Kenny and I immediately began to revamp our presentation and pitch. Thanks to the constructive criticism of the SBDC, incubator mentors and Bucknell alumni, we were able to create a successful presentation of Flip ’N Flate,” Johnson said.

Johnson and Griffin captured the crowd’s attention during the presentation with their innovative product. The duo even brought up Abdullah Anderson ’18, a defensive lineman on the football team, to test the product and its durability.

“Trey and I took away a great deal of information. We learned a lot from our competition, the judges, the SBDC, and the alumni panel that we presented for. It is reassuring to know that there are Bucknellians in high ranking positions at companies that would likely carry our product. It was also inspirational to see the successes of other groups, like Uscape Apparel,” Griffin said.

The $2,000 prize will go toward supporting Flip ’N Flate in order to help cover the production and fulfillment costs. Griffin also mentioned that they plan to have a sizable inventory in their fulfillment center to cut down the time involved with the order-to-door delivery process.

Second Place – Uscape Apparel

The Uscape Apparel team at BizPitch was comprised of markets, innovation, and design majors Emily Nowlin ’16, Michelle Lutz ’17, and Mike O’Neill ’17, as well as biomedical engineering major Caroline Carey ’16. The premise of the Uscape design is combining college titles with skylines of their campus buildings.

Uscape Apparel has successfully captured the brand of many universities that they currently sell at, recording $120,000 in sales in the company’s first year. The company already has a license, is selling at 70 university bookstores, and is even starting to go into e-commerce.

“We learned a lot about the e-commerce process, as professors and the SBDC helped us think strategically about how to successfully integrate e-commerce into our existing business. So many times companies think that e-commerce will be an easy solution, but there is so much to think about. BizPitch allowed us to connect with the right mentors and understand all of these elements,” Nowlin said.

In addition to the second-place, $1,000 prize, Uscape Apparel captured the social media and fan favorite awards at the competition.

“We used our research to guide our pitch, which we gave a total of  four times as a part of the BizPitch competition. It was awesome to work alongside the SBDC and get feedback from alumni, professors, entrepreneurs and judges. I feel that we gained a lot of experience through going through BizPitch and am so grateful to have been a part of it,” Nowlin said.

Third Place – TouchBus

Frank Henry ’17, a markets, innovation, and design major, created the TouchBus app with the help of his high school friend Connor Scalleat. TouchBus is an app that allows users to easily purchase bus tickets.

In an event with much variety between the products being showcased, TouchBus demonstrated its consistency throughout the presentation, proving how Henry and Scalleat have explored all possible options with TouchBus.

For placing third, TouchBus received a $500 award to help support the app’s creation and implementation. Computing technology has had success in the BizPitch competitions, with ScheduleFast and EZ-Tap finishing first in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Some of the ideas presented at this year’s BizPitch had already been put in motion prior to the competition, while others are just beginning, but the top-three finishers from this year will all have the opportunity to expand their creations into the future.

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